Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Top 5 Books of My Summer TBR

I've noticed some other people doing summer TBRs, and although I don't have a specific TBR pile, I do have some books that I really can't wait to read this summer. My TBR pile is constantly changing, so who knows if I'll get to all of these, but either way, I though I'd share them.

This is the first Sarah Dessen book I will read. I  takes place during the summer, and I think it'll be a good book to inspire me to write my novel.

Not something I usually read, I think this will also be a nice summer read. It sounds really neat and probably emotional, but I'm excited to read it. 
I am finally going to read this series (or at least the first book, depending on if I like it). It sounds really awesome, and I've heard only good things about the Lunar Chronicles. However, this awful cover, and the fact that it's a Cinderella retelling have made me avoid it. I'm finally ready to see what all the hype is about. 
Gonna start this series?? Honestly, I've head a lot about it on Youtube, and it seems to be a pretty amazing series. I recently bought the first two on eBay, so I'll be picking up the first book pretty soon.
I want to read this book so badly! I don't own it yet, but I'm looking to buy a copy on eBay or something. I'm so intrigued by this trilogy.

Those are just some of the books I want to read this summer. I might end up reading all of them, and likely more. I'm also going to be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, I think, to help me work on the novel I'm writing. 

Feel free to let me know about your reading and writing goals/plans for the summer are. Also, if you've read any of these, let me know what you think!


Sunday, June 22, 2014

3 Books That Do Alternating Point of Views Right

Alternating POVs can either help or hurt a story. If done right, they can enhance the message, characters and/or plot of the novel. If done wrong, they can leave the reader confused or unfulfilled. It’s important that all of the characters are vital to the story, and that each of them produce a strong voice, which distinguishes them from the others.
Here are three examples of novels that I think do alternating POVs right:

1. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami-
    In 1Q84, the long chapters are split between two main characters, Tengo and Aomame, a man and woman who haven’t seen each other since they were in grade school, but have held onto their feelings for each other. Despite how it sounds, the story is so complex, and indescribable really. Between the alternating POVs, the characters experience strange but important things, which have a great impact on the story. The two characters are very strongly shown, and I found both of them to be likable. Towards the end of the story, it breaks off into a third, unlikely POV, a character introduced earlier in the story. Although the story is rich and complex, the three POVs fit together like links, creating a strong plot and amazing character development.

2. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi-
    Although other aspects of this book bothered me, the various POVs proved to be very impressive in this sci-fi read. Expressing characters from all different backgrounds, the alternating POVs in this book wove together a beautiful setting. The Windup Girl holds a heavy, rich culture, the most important thing to the story, which made up for some of the things I didn’t like about it.

 3. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin-
    Lastly, we have the best example of alternating POVs that I have read so far, A Game of Thrones (and the rest of the series). There are a lot of characters in this book, and a total of 8 different POVs. Regardless of the number, it does not make the story confusing. Each of the characters adds something important to the story, and each of them have strong, distinguishable personalities. Though you can easily pick favorites, none of them were unenjoyable to read about. It is refreshing to read the heavy topics of death and war through so many different eyes, varying from lords to children. Overall, the usage of multiple POVs made this book exciting and interesting.

So those are the three adult books that I think do alternating POVs well. I may follow this post up with one of 3 YA books that do it well also (once I start reading more YA books with alt. POVs.)

Let me know what you think of my recommendations. I tried to give a good variety of genres- contemporary (with magical realism??),  sci-fi, and fantasy. I quite enjoy reading books with alternating POVs, so let me know if you've read any good ones recently.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A-Z Book Survey

I saw this survey on A Perfection Called Books's blog, and it looked like a lot of fun, so I thought I would do it! That way, you can also better get a sense of what kind of a reader I am!

Author You've Read the Most Book From:'s probabably J.K. Rowling with the Harry Potter books.

Best Sequel Ever:
I am currently reading A Clash of Kings, and it is pretty amazing.

Currently Reading:
As I said, A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin, and also The Edge of Never by J. A. Redmerski

Drink of Choice While Reading:
Water. I always have water next to my bed.

E-reader or Physical Book:
I do enjoy both, but if I had to pick, of course, a physical book.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Dated in High School:
Well, admittedly, I was a wannabe goth girl with a love of vampires at the time, so probably Alexander from the Vampire Kisses series.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:
Hold Still by Nina LaCour- the cover of mine is kind of bad, but it turned out to be one of the best YA books I've ever read.

Hidden Gem Book:
Honestly, I have to say Hold Still again. I didn't expect it to be so good, and I hadn't heard of it before I bought it.

Important Moment in Your Reading Life:
Discovering Twilight in the library during middle school. Don't judge me.

Just Finished:
 Hold Still, again.

Kind of Books You Won't Read:

Longest Book You've Read:
1Q84 by Haruki Murikami

Major Book Hangover Because of:
Probably It's Kind of a Funny Story, because it depressed me for like...months.

Number of Book Cases You Own:

One Book You have Read Multiple Times:
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Preferred Place to Read:
On my bed.

Quote That Inspires You:
“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.” - A Game of Thrones

Reading Regret:
The years I spent not reading, and letting books make me depressed.

Series You Started and Need to Finish:
Though the 6th book isn't out yet, I need to finish A Song of Ice and Fire.

Three of Your All Time Favorite Books:

Unapologetic Fangirl For:
TFIOS...I gave myself a cloud tattoo.

Very Excited for this Release: 
The 3rd Peculiar Children book, whenever that comes out!

Worst Bookish Habit:
Starting too many at once and not finishing them.

X Marks the Spot- Start at the Top Left of your Shelf and Pick the 27th Book:
The River by Henry David Thoreau 

Your Latest Book Purchase: 
And The Mountains Echoed by Kahled Hosseini 

Zzz Snatcher- Last Book That Kept You Up WAY Too Late:
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

That was harder than I expected, but fun, nonetheless!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Written with a beautiful simplicity that fills you with deep emotions, Hold Still is a powerful story about a girl dealing with the suicide of her best friend. It progresses slowly in a way that captures the reader and submerges them into this emotional story. With highly realistic characters, and a gorgeous plot, this book was absolutely stunning.

The writing seemed very real, as if narrated directly from a teen girl’s life. Reminiscent of Laurie Halse Anderson’s writing, it was simple and unembellished, while remaining pungent and unique. The speed of this story was perfect, rising and falling with the changing emotions of the main character, Caitlin. I could feel the heaviness she was feeling at the beginning of the story and throughout it, as well as the lighter feeling of hope as things start to shift and change for the better.

The main character Caitlin came so naturally as I read, that it felt as if I were reading about a friend, instead of a character in a book. Caitlin was also very relatable and realistic, as were the rest of the characters. Toward the beginning there were hints of stereotyping, all of which were diminished through the characters, most specifically Dylan. The characters were awkward and imperfect, like real people. Sometimes they very clearly didn’t know how to respond to certain things, which was a relief to read. Taylor and Jayson and Dylan and Maddie were all genuine people. There was no ridiculous drama or backstabbing, that lots of YA books tend to have.

The plot was solid and emotionally charged. It held a peacefulness to it, despite the story being about a heavy topic. There were several events which touched me and left me smiling. The way things came full circle was smart and elegant, including the way the book got its title.

Though a quick read, the story lingered long after, clinging to my thoughts. It was written simply and sweetly, leaving a powerful impression. I really wish I could keep reading about the lives of these characters afterwards, even though the ending was quite perfect and a fantastic closure. Focussed around a difficult subject, this book was easy to understand for all ages. It got its messages across humbly, making them easy to absorb. I truly adore this book and recommend it to anyone who’s willing to give it a read. I plan on checking out some of LaCour’s other works soon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

This books left me with such mixed feelings! In a way, it was a lot like what I excepted- a basic plot about teen girls getting revenge on those who’ve wronged them. However, with very pleasant writing and a nice bunch of characters, it proved to be a better book than I was anticipating.

The writing and plot were both enjoyable and well-paced, giving me a comfortable feeling as I read this book. Though the writing is clearly in the point of view of teenage girls, it doesn’t take away from the subtle beauty it holds, which captivated me as I read.  In fact, I really appreciated the three POVs, ranging from Mary, the most innocent and sweet of the three, to Lillia, who’s just starting to truly taste life, to Kat, who’s more experienced and seasoned in life.

There are a lot of high school stereotypes used, as expected, but they were surprisingly tolerable. Rennie is the stereotypical mean girl, who’s easy to hate. She was one of the most unrealistic characters, but luckily most of the other ones were not so bad. I really enjoyed the use of flashbacks in this book. They were refreshing to read, as the girls remembered the trauma they endured that led them to this point of revenge.

I really liked the way the girls met, and their subtle and sometimes surprising connection to each other. It was exciting as they progressed with their plans for revenge. There were lots of little surprises throughout the book, which were nice and enjoyable.

The biggest downfall of this novel was Mary. Her character started out really nicely, I thought, but continued going downhill until the very end of the book. Aside from her past, her character is very blurry and lacking in personality. Her voice continues to become weaker as the plot moves along. Eventually I got really bored of reading about her.

However, the worst part about her comes at the end, with an event way too similar to the book/movie Carrie occurs. If not for this event, if not for Mary’s untold powers, I would have given this book four stars. The addition of unearthly powers was just too farfetched, and a desperate pull in the wrong direction. I wanted this book to solely focus on real life issues, and the discovery of Mary’s powers ruined that for me.

Unlike Mary, the characters of Lillia and Kat, two former friends, were very strong and believable. Naturally, I disliked Lillia from the start, but grew to like her more and more. She is smart and sensible. If not for the influence of her best friend Rennie, she would be a lot better off. However, because of this, she proves to be a more realistic, flawed character. As well, Kat is fierce and brave, the rebel of the group.

Overall, I liked this book more than expected. It was a nice contemporary YA book, though it did have several weak points, which left me with mixed feelings toward it. I’m unsure if I will pick up the second book or not.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Wanting to Read All the Books

I was flicking through the dedications and acknowledgments for Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City, when I started to wonder about his life, not just as a writer but as a person. Maybe it was the lingering effect of reading Miss Peregrine’s that made me start to examine the differences in both of the books’ appearances.

For instance, I noticed in the acknowledgments of his first book, he mentions his wife Abbi. But in the second, he not only mentions Tahera Mafi, another popular YA author, but also dedicates the book to her. It made me curious, wondering how his relationships with both of them came to be, and what they are now. Naturally, I probably could have Googled something about it, if I felt like being intrusive. But it wasn’t about that. I mean, his life is his own, and while I enjoy his books, I don’t really care to know the specifics.

What it did make me realize, however, was how much of themselves a writer puts into their books. I’ve heard countless quotes about such things, but only now did it sink in. Because between that dedication and page of acknowledgments is an entire story written by this person. An idea formed in their brains that we, as readers, are so lucky to be able to read. I know, as a writer, how precious the books or stories or poems etc. we write are. I can imagine as a published author, it must be even more so. You have to support and stand up for your idea, sell it and edit it without having it lose its essence.

Then I looked over at all of my other books. And instead of simply seeing them as books, I saw them as fictional diaries, exaggerated life stories of their writers. Daydreams turned into something tangible. A tiny spark of an idea that each of the books’ writers cradled and sculpted into the books that they are today.

And when I realized that, I suddenly wanted to read every book. I wanted to know as many people as possible. No matter how good or bad, every book is so important, even if just to one person. They tell stories that would otherwise be silenced. They explain histories that happened in someone’s mind before they happened on paper. I want to read all the books because I want to be able to understand people. I want to know how someone thinks or feels, even if I think or feel differently.

My collection of books is more than just books, they are a collection of thoughts on paper, labored over and written out by their writers. They are tales and characters created by someone somewhere, at a point in their life that cannot be repeated. They are time capsules. They are portals into ten thousand different worlds, because every time a person reads a book, it is interpreted differently. They can make us feel things we otherwise wouldn’t experience. They make us see things differently. They make us think about life and love and all those other important things.

And all of this happens because one person decides to sit down and write their story.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wake by Amanda Hocking

What I expected to be a fun summer read, ended up falling flat with its bland writing and cliche’ characters. It was a mermaid story without the lure and believability, turning it more into a boring teen drama. There were only a few small points which helped the story out, but they couldn’t make up for the overall failure that this book was.

Randomly switching between sisters Gemma and Harper, we follow the pair as they deal with their stereotypical problems, focussing on Gemma’s encounter with ‘those pretty girls’, who clearly are bad news, as told by everybody.

The writing was disconnected and blunt, the author overusing the characters’ names. Because of this, it was impossible to forget their names, as most of the sentences started with either ‘Harper’ or ‘Gemma’. Everything, it seemed, was told, not shown. Even things that could have been explained without being so blunt had unnecessary sentences in front of them that stated the obvious. It was like hearing a story written by a child, with their tendency to repeat the same sentence structure over and over. It felt like I was simply listening to a story, which made it impossible to connect with the plot or the characters.

The characters had minimal depth to their personalities. Even as we start to learn more about them, it still seems like they all only hit one note. Appearance takes up too much of the story. Right from the beginning, Gemma is stated as being the prettier sister, which we are told several times. Harper is the overprotective, nosey older sister, which was annoying and over the top. Alex is a self-proclaimed geek, which is totally fine, except that we are reminded of this countless times. Marcy is, quite honestly, a shallow, poser bitch. She’s not only sexist, but cruel to the girls, commenting on how they look bulimic. Luckily, she doesn’t grace us with her presence that often (‘cause she’s too good for that). Gemma and Harper’s dad, Brian, is terrible. He seems to play at being a father, making rules only when he feels like it, telling Harper to let her sister experience things on her own, but then getting upset at her when she actually does.

Daniel, to me, seemed like the only real character. He immediately comes off as a standoffish player, but he quickly proves to be more. Not only a good-hearted guy, but a mature, wise person. He held the story together, in my opinion. There even was a subtle bit of mystery about him, which is possibly addressed in the later books.

The two romances in this story were one of the things that it actually had going for it. Though Alex and Gemma’s was kind of sudden, it was still pretty cute and enjoyable to read about. Harper and Daniel’s relationship seemed a lot more real. Despite being one of those stereotypical ones in which the girl first hates the guy, ends up resisting him, but then falls for him, it managed to sound plausible and honest.

The girls’ mom was an unexpected twist, one of the few good things about this story. Their visit of her toward the beginning is brought together with Gemma’s visit near the end, a really important addition to this story. The only fault in this is that their mom is rarely mentioned other than those two times.

The three creepy, siren girls act as predicted. They are mean, and not at all alluring, as they are described. They force Gemma to make a decision that is not very fair, which leads to a predictable ending. They were what the story was based on, yet they held no intrigue.

The ending moved quickly, making the scene in which Harper and Brian visit Bernie’s Island rather delayed. This ended up making the ending easily predictable, which took away from a satisfying close. Naturally, the ending was also left unresolved, as it leads into the second book of the series. Daniel is the sole thing making me want to find out what happens, but unfortunately I will not be picking up the next book. I was quite disappointed by this one.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Clarity by Loretta Lost

Clarity by Loretta Lost is the first book in a three part series, which is currently available for free on Amazon for the Kindle. I typically do not like to spend money on ebooks, so when I saw this one for free and read over its plot, I didn’t hesitate to download it. However, immediately upon finishing this book, I hastily purchased the second book. With the fantastic cliffhanger ending of this book, I need to know what happens next and can’t wait to begin reading the second.

Though rather short, this book was both entertaining and powerful. Its rich, full plot progressed at a perfect speed, with not a single filler scene. Every scene was so vital to this story, which shows Lost’s amazing writing ability. Both the beginning and ending were striking and raw. I was left breathless and speechless right from the opening scene.

Helen’s narration was beautifully written. Her world was so well described, despite her being blind. While using her other sense to portray the world around her, most of the description was shown through sound and scent. One of the most beautiful scenes, in my opinion, is when Helen walks into her childhood home and smells all the flowers, which triggers a bunch of sweet, old memories.

Helen’s character was very believable. She is smart and strong. Even though she’s left questioning a lot of things in her life, she approaches them all very logically, and strays from making impulsive decisions.

The other characters in this book were equally believable. I found Liam and Owen a bit young to be doctors, though clearly Liam is much more mature. Owen, with his affinity for porn and road trips was somewhat childish and over the top, but he remained a funny character, adding a bit of lightheartedness to the story. Carmen, Helen’s sister, is at first portrayed as shallow and bubbly, but even her character is given depth and personality as we read more about her.

I cannot wait to see where this story goes, with Carmen’s wedding and Helen and Liam’s possible romance. So far the storyline has been nearly flawless, accompanied by gorgeous writing and realistic characters. This first book feels only like a mere taste of what is to come.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Alternating between the 1800’s and the present, Monstrous Beauty is a dark mermaid story about love and family. It is woven together with beautiful, elegant writing, the entire book holding a pleasant, calming feel. This is the kind of story that I used to dream about as a kid on our vacations to the ocean.

Though not the most exciting plot, it flows very well between the point of view of Hester, a girl trying to figure out her ancestral history, and Syrenka, a mermaid trying to live a human life, back in the 1800’s. Throughout the story, their connection is discovered, as Hester researches and Syrenka comes upon troubles in her life. There is a bit of a mystery aspect of it for Hester, but we learn things before she does through the narration.

The mermaids of this story, which is what I was drawn to, were creepy and dark. Along with the addition of ghosts and graveyards, it was perfectly eery, while still holding the air of a touristy seaside town. The characters helped accentuate the mood and feeling of the story, which was very refreshing.

Hester was a pretty good main character. She was easily relatable and likable. As a person, she is smart, driven and logical. She thinks things through, without making rash decisions, and knows what is important in her life- which is her family, and friend Peter.

Though somewhat predictable, this story was still very enjoyable. There were a few twists near the end, which spiced it up a bit. Hester’s encounter with the mermaids was unexpected and strange, but a pleasant addition to the story. A simple summer read, this was a nice books about not only mermaids, but love, history and family.